tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN August 1, 2018 9:59am-12:00pm EDT
>> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in on this wednesday morning. senate lawmakers expected to wrap up work on four federal spending bills for 2019 and the defense programs and policy bill. a series of votes will get underway at 11 a.m. eastern this morning. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray.
eternal lord god, our refuge and strength, stay close to our senators. as they labor for liberty, give them the grace of your presence. assist them in their work, so that their thoughts, words, and deeds will be acceptable to you. give them pure hearts, devoted to you and ever seeking your glory. may they not tire in well-doing, knowing that a wonderful harvest is certain if they persevere. lord, inspire them to press on with today's duties with hope in their hearts.
we pray in your great name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., august 1, 2018. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tom cotton, a senator from the state of arkansas, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: nor for than a week, the senate has carefully considered a set of four appropriations bills. together they'll account for about one-eighth of the discretionary spending for the next fiscal year. they allocate funds for a variety of pressing neat needs in communities around the country, and they represent four more steps towards the goal this senate has set to fund the government through regular appropriations and steer clear of another omni-us about. -- omnibus. a lot of of attention has been paid to two huge priorities where this legislation will bring major progress. our mission to renew america's infrastructure and the ongoing fight against opioid addiction and abuse.
both are urgent challenges. in one survey last year, 81% of americans said the opioid epidemic is either a major problem or a full-blown emergency. and more than half said infrastructure investment was a very important or extremely important priority. these are two priorities we share throughout this congress -- both parties, both houses and with the president. here are just a few of the provisions in this legislation. billions of dollars of investment in rural communities for everything from electric and telephone infrastructure to water infrastructure to broadband internet, to small business loans. a $10 billion overall increase from 2013 for infrastructure needs and tens of millions for opioid prevention, including grants for distance learning and telemedicine so rural america is better-equipped to strike back
against the scourge of addiction. of course, infrastructure and fighting opioids are only part of what these bills encompass. they will fully fund the federal government's efforts in agriculture, transportation, housing and urban development, interior, environment, financial services, and general government. that includes essential, routine services from the forest service to food safety inspections. it includes many targeted programs that have outsized impact on local communities. my fellow kentuckians and i are glad this legislation will help us expand rural internet access, invest in new highways and bridges, reclaim abandoned mines, contain the invasive asian carp that threaten our waterways. the list goes on and on p. i know every community and every state could write its own list. this legislation matters to every senator. it matters to all americans. i'm grateful to chairman shelby,
senator leahy and subcommittee chairmen for all their hard work. we've considered these bills carefully. we've voted on a number of amendments. this morning we'll consider more amendments and then pass the bill. now, this appropriations package is not the only important business the senate has been working on this week. yesterday we passed an important extension of the flood insurance program and sent it to the white house for the president's signature. we confirmed the 24th circuit court nominee already in this congress, and we voted to proceed to conference with the house on the farm bill. i understand this year marks the earliest since at least 1965 that both the house and senate have passed a farm bill. here in the senate it passed with the widest margin of any recorded vote in the history of this legislation. so chairman roberts and senator stabenow deserve our congratulations and appreciation. i look forward to serving as a
conferee myself and to finishing up the farm bill prior to its expiration. before we adjourn this week, the senate will also finalize the john s. mccain fiscal 2019 national defense authorization act. once we pass the conference report this week, this important legislation will head to the president's desk to become law. and we fulfill one of this body's most solemn responsibilities. the ndaa bill's progress on we made he recall whyer this year which provided for the largest year-on-year increase for our american armed forces in 15 years. this legislation authorizes programs which will contribute to combat readiness of americans military to meet emerging and persistent global threats. it helps ensure our service members and their families will receive the full support of a grateful nation. when we passed the fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations act, which funds these programs,
we'll have gone yet further in meeting our commitments to an all-volunteer force. the ndaa has global and nationwide significance, but it also has tremendous local importance. representing the commonwealth of kentucky, i know just how significant an impact this legislation had will have on some of our nation's finest. at fort campbell, members of the 101st airborne division and a number of special operation divisions will benefit from the authorization of new investments in their training facilities. at fort knox, the army's human resources command and recruiting command will receive the support they need to modernize officer personnel management and the post will receive much-needed certainty and authority for its energy savings program. at the blueblass army depot, critical work to support demilitarization will continue because this bill authorizes the resources necessary to conduct safe operations. and service members will benefit
from a well-deserved raise in military pay and expanded authority for military family housing and education. so, mr. president, none of my colleagues need to look far to find examples of how the needs of our service members will be met by the legislation before us. our colleagues on the armed services committee carefully developed it. it reflects more than 300 amendments and it rightly bears the name of our colleague and friend john mccain. i know he is proud of -- i know he's proud of all the legislation accomplishes for our men and women in uniform. i also want to thank the senior senator from oklahoma and the ranking member from rhode island for steering this bill through conference. i look forward to sending it to the president's desk this week. now, on one final matter, the u.s. economy continues to receive a lot of attention. in june from "the new york times," "new milestones in jobs report signal a bustling economy" -- from "the new york times."
in july, sales of small businesses are going through the roof. and just yesterday in "the wall street journal," u.s. workers get biggest pay increase in nearly a decade. let's explore the last headline. according to data from the department of labor, employee compensation grew by 2.8% over the past 12 months. that's the pastest employers have increased what they spend on employee pay and benefits in any 12-month period since the one that ended in september of 2008. given what we know about the labor market, this is hardly surprising. from main street businesses to manufacturers, job creators are faced with heightened demand. that means more americans can come off the sidelines and find a quality job and that means that businesses compete to hire and retain workers. every week, practically every day yields more impressive headlines, more testimony from middle-class families and small businesses about how this
economy has improved their lives. it's been little more than seven months since the united republican government passed historic tax reform and it's been about as long since the house democratic leader predicted our policies would bring about, quote, armageddon. about seven months since my friend, the democratic leader here in the senate, predicted that no part of tax reform would turn out to suit the needs of the american worker. none of it. but republicans saw past the scare tactics and did what we knew to be right for the country. we pursued a pro-growth agenda to get washington's foot on the brakes that were restraining job creators, took washington's hand out of the pockets of working families, and helped create the conditions for communities across the country to succeed. and any one of these goals could have been a bipartisan priority, just like all the other good work i've discussed this morning. tax reform historically had been bipartisan. but this time our colleagues listened to the far left and
decided to stand in complete partisan opposition to letting americans keep more of their own money. now the american people are reaping the benefits of a grow growth, pro--- of a pro-growth, pro-opportunity agenda. now they see those policies benefit them. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 6147, which the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 6147, an act making appropriations for the department of the interior, environment, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2019, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
ms. murkowski: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: i ask the proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: mr. president, we are beginning to wrap up, beginning to wrap up the appropriation package which includes the f.y. 2019 bills for the subcommittee on interior and environment and related agencies, the financial services and general government, agriculture, rural development, food and drug administration, and related agencies, as well as transportation, housing, and urban development and related agencies. or thud, interior, financial services, and ag.
this is really quite an accomplishment this morning. perhaps not necessarily noted in the -- in the trade press out there, but the fact of the matter is, mr. president, we're doing our business here. we are doing the business of lawmakers, legislators when it comes to our annual spending bills. the fact that this is august 1 and we will be wrapping up in a matter of an hour or so, a couple hours four appropriations bills on top of the three that we have previously done, so seven out of the 12 appropriations bills, this is -- this is good progress. this is important progress. some might say it's historic progress. i say it is progress that is long overdue.
and it -- it is because of the leadership, i believe, of chairman shelby and his vice chairman leahy when they came together to basically lay down a path forward for the appropriations committee, urging us as chairmen of our respected subcommittees to take us back to a process that was a working, functioning process where we do the work of appropriators, not as authorizers with but as appropriators in advancing these multiple spending bills. so where we are today, in my view again, is a result of good leadership at the committee, good leadership that says that committee work matters, to be able to lead a committee, the interior environment and related
agencies committee has been a very distinct privilege and an honor for me. these are areas that are clearly of interest to my home state when we talk about our nation's public lands, when we talk about support for our indigenous people and the agencies that support them, whether it's the b.i.a. or i.h.s. whether we think about the arts and the contribution of the arts to our nation, the issues that are within this subcommittee's jurisdiction are good, are important, and it's necessary that on an annual basis, we really work to advance these priorities. but we haven't been able to really advance them, not only not here on the full floor but actually through the full committee. it has been many years, it's actually been since fiscal year 2010 that we had an interior
bill before the full senate for full consideration. so, again, truly a milestone here. so i want to -- i want to thank, as i have mentioned, chairman leahy and vice chairman -- excuse me. chairman shelby and vice chairman leahy for their leadership on this, but i also want to acknowledge and thank leader mcconnell for placing priority on the appropriations process. he urged us to -- to advance without delay these multitude of spending bills to return us back at regular order. he set forth a pretty aggressive schedule for us. in fairness, there were a lot of folks out there who said we're not going to do this one, a lot of skeptics who said they can't get their act together on this one. but it's kind of nice to be able
to demonstrate that in fact we can and we have and we continue to do this good work. so we are -- we are really on track to meet our goal of avoiding what we have come to just accept as regular course of business around here, that there is going to be a large omnibus package at the end of the year, but by allowing for a process on this floor where all members of the senate, not just those of us who serve on the appropriations committee, but all of us have an opportunity to -- to weigh in, dig in, review these measures that have come through the committee, offer up amendments the ability to debate and amend, and granted we haven't had as many amendments to the floor as i think some of us might have wanted, we haven't had the
hours-long debate on some of the perhaps more contentious matters, but what we have done is we have really focused on outlining the spending priorities and ensuring that we can find consensus, and finding consensus around here is the hard part of the responsibility, because it means that i have to stand down on some of my priorities, you have to stand down on some of your priorities in order for any of us to be able to advance the broader priorities. so we are here with a process that has been, been delayed over the years, but i feel good. i feel optimistic that we've pushed kind of a reset when it comes to the appropriations committee and how we will be able to move forward. we know that there is more than just one body in the congress, and we're going to have to deal
with our colleagues on the other side, the house of representatives, as we move into conference. but you can't get to conference until you've taken the first step, and we will be able to take the first step with these four appropriations bills that are part of this package this morning. i wanted to highlight just some of the provisions in the interior bill that our committee worked so hard on. as i mentioned, this is a subcommittee that has oversight in so many different areas. it's not only our nation's public lands, it's matters relating to our native people. it is environmental issues with the e.p.a. it's arts and culture. so a broad array of responsibilities. some of the highlights here, folks are always very interested in what we have done to meet our responsibility when it comes to
payments to those communities, those counties, those boroughs, municipalities through the pilt program, the payment in lieu of taxes. we fully fund the pilt program at $500 million. this is going to be important to so many of our communities out there. another issue that has generated its level of support and some opposition in terms of wanting to see some additional reforms is the land and water conservation fund program. we fund lwcf at the current level, $425 million, to ensure that the important work that is advanced for conservation is able to proceed. a lot of focus on what is happening with the devastating forest fires that we're seeing right now in the west, particularly in california. we provide robust levels for
fire fighting funding to ensure that both the department of the interior and the forest service have the resources that they need at the time that they need it. when you've got a fire underway, you don't want us to be arguing about whether or not we've got the resources, the resources are there and we will be able to help. i mentioned the matters that relate to our first peoples, american indians, alaska natives. we do rite by indian country -- we do right by indian country in this bill. the b.i.u., the bureau of indian affairs, and the indian health service, we restored the cuts that were proposed of over $1 billion in critical program funding. the bill increases funding for i.h.s. facilities program, for construction, maintenance, and
sanitation facilities improvements. we hear time after time after time in indian affairs as well as in the appropriations committee about the dire situation with so many of our facilities within not only our indian hospitals around the country, but also within the schools. truly leaving these children behind. so we do provide substantial funding for the b.i.a. to help with construction of indian schools. also irrigation systems, public safety facilities. so truly the full picture there. for both accounts, we provide the fully estimated level of contract support costs for health care. this is very significant in ensuring that we're being honest about these accounts, we're not forcing i.h.s. to effectively dip into other pots of funding to fund another.
so it's important that we fully fund contract support. in i.h.s., we also provided $10 million in critical new funding to provide grants to tribes for combatting the opioid crisis. so again, we all know all throughout the country, the issues that we're facing with opioids. it is almost even more accentuated on our reservations and many of our places where our native peoples are facing this terrible scourge. when it comes to public lands, how we do right by public lands, whether it is our forest service, the b.l.m., the national park service, we work to address contaminated lands matters. we work to provide support for construction and deferred maintenance on not only within our national park system but within our other public lands. we focus on areas of hazards.
most people didn't give a lot of thought to what's going on with volcanoes until the situation that we're seeing on the big island of hawaii, and now there's a lot of attention. so making sure that we're doing right in understanding some of our natural hazards, whether they are volcanoes or earthquakes. mapping which is so critical for us. usgs does a great job for us but we need to do more. we made responsible investments in the e.p.a. that will lead to cleaner air and cleaner water. so within our bill, we provide additional funding to states who have delegated responsibility for environmental programs. we provide an increase above last year's level for clean water and drinking water state revolving funds. this builds on critical water infrastructure in communities across the country, and i think we all recognize when it comes to that role, the mission of e.p.a., clean air clean water. so what are we doing to make sure that they are able to
fulfill that mission? these accounts truly do make a difference. we also continue to provide the highest funding level ever for the wifia program. this leverages federal funds for water infrastructure projects, and these programs have a direct impact on improving water quality in communities around the country. and then another small category that is not small for the arts and the cultural communities, but again we do right by our smithsonians here in our nation's capital, helping to ensure that the national endowment for arts and humanities receives the level of support that i believe is important. so again, those are some of the greatest hits coming out of the interior appropriations bill this morning. you have heard similar comments from my colleagues in the other
three departments, whether it's financial services ag or transportation housing. i look forward again to working with colleagues as we advance these measures through the full process not only here in the senate, but in the conference with the house later. i'd like to close, mr. president, by again expressing my appreciation to my friend and the ranking member of the committee, senator udall, who is here this morning. he and his staff have just been excellent to work with, and i appreciate his efforts, that of his staff, as we have worked to shape this bill so that it reflects the priorities of members on both sides of the aisle. i think we have worked very hard to do that. i am pleased with where we are right now with this measure. i look forward to the passage of
this bill. again, in working with him and my other colleagues as we move through the conference process. so with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and wait the tprepbts of my friend and -- the comments of my friend and ranking member senator udall. mr. udall: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: thank you for the recognition. senator murkowski, chairman murkowski, thanks for those kind works. it's always a pleasure to say we work with each other. there are issue sometimes we disagree on. we listen to each other and always come back to try to reach a final result, and i think that's what the american people and what alaskans and new mexicans want us to do. as the ranking member of the interior department appropriations subcommittee, i want to thank my colleagues for being part of a remarkable process on the floor this last week, and i want to again thank
my chairman, senator lisa murkowski and commend her for managing the bill and the way she's managed it and the leadership she has shown in this. and i'm particularly proud that we have moved this bill without the addition of contentious authorizing matters or poison pills, which is quite an accomplishment. i mean what we really want is the appropriations process to work the way it has worked, without -- and let the authorizing process work. and senator murkowski is involved in both of this, authorizing appropriations, as i have been. unfortunately there are still scores of riders in the house bill, but by voting to send the senate interior bill to the conference without adding controversial items, we are as a body telling the house we will reject these poison pills once again. that message is important because the funding in this bill is critical to meet wild land
fire fighting needs, important for support national parks and public lands and to continue the land and water conservation fund. we need to pass a final bill to fund the environmental protection agency, support arts and cultural institutions, and meet our nation's trust and treaty responsibilities with our nation's tribes. as senator murkowski well knows, she has a very large number of tribes up in alaska. i have a significant number of tribes in new mexico. and we try to work very closely on those tribal issues to see that tribes are included, and we take care of those consultation government-to-government sovereignty issues. and there are other important issues to work through, including a proposal by the department of interior to begin a major reorganization of the agency. last week the department notified the subcommittee of plans to move forward during this fiscal year with efforts to
change its regional boundaries, with more changes expected in fiscal year 2019. while this request is only the first step, i want to note that i've been asking secretary zinke for months for information about the department's plans, and i have yet to get answers to my questions. we've submitted very specific questions to him. we haven't gotten answers. and i hope chairman murkowski will work with me to ensure that no changes are made without bipartisan agreement from congress, tribes, states, and stakeholders. this is one of the many issues this subcommittee has on our very full plate as we move to reconcile the house and senate interior bills. i hope to be back here on the floor of the senate very soon with a conference report we can pass with broad support. as i conclude, i'd like to thank chairman shelby and vice chairman leahy for providing outstanding leadership for this
process, and we wouldn't be here without the excellent work of the appropriations full committee staff, including shannon heinz, chuck keytper, as well as my own subcommittee staff rachel taylor, ryan hunt, melissa zimmerman and the excellent majority staff led by lee fonesbeck. i'd like to thank senator murray who serves on the appropriations committee with me and i believe on my subcommittee for his courtesies today to allow us to appear talking to each other and having a colloquy here. and with that, just also say about senator merkley a very important member of the appropriations committee, stands up for all these issues i talked about, and thank you so much. mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent to enter a longer statement in the record. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. udall: and then i would yield to senator merkley. mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i ask unanimous consent that my intern aaron mcguiness be allowed floor privileges for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: i'm delighted to be here following my colleague whos a the ranking member of the subcommittee has done such excellent work with the senator from alaska in undertaking, really bringing together a vision for their subcommittee that we needed on this floor for a long time. and so well done. i stand here as the ranking member of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee. i'm very pleased we were able to pass this bill today, or we will hopefully soon do so. strong bipartisan support. appreciation to the chairman of the subcommittee, senator hoeven, and his excellent appropriations subcommittee team, carlisle clark, elizabeth dent, patrick carroll and carlos elias around they worked hand in
hand with diane naylor, jessica shulkin and bob ross. i came to the floor to speak about the excellent work jessica shulkin has done in her career serving for nearly two decades on the committee and just being a powerful, intelligent, persuasive, insightful force in agricultural policy. i think together we've produced a very good bill. it provides funding for programs that are important to every american in every community, from the smallest rural town to the biggest city. and we rejected draconian cuts proposed in the president's budget. and just some of the essential items that we find in this ag appropriations bill include rural development -- very important to my state; i know my colleagues across the aisle, both sides of the aisle we have so much that's going on in our rural towns that it's important
to fund our rural businesses, our rural utility service, our rural broadband. our rural broadband was zeroed out. i am so pleased we were able to reach a bipartisan decision to support these rural development programs, to support also nutrition for americans. there's no reason in our country that americans should be going hungry. and to maintain international assistance, which largely means buying american food and shipping it overseas to places in the world who are desperate. and i had the chance to visit some of those areas in africa and see firsthand how important our contribution to the world food programme is. our environmental programs that assist farmers and the stewardship of the land -- something they have in their hearts. but it is help to have the program and the nrcs to support
them. agricultural research service -- essential, so important to the great diversity of crops we have in my state and the ever -- and the unending list of potential pests and problems that occur, diseases that occur. and we have to continue that research. just recently visiting, for example, a wheat research station. and it was just fascinating to see on something that just from a distance, you would say, oh, there's another field of wheat. what could be the issues? well, it turns out there's all kinds of important issues that require agricultural r and then risk-management for our farmers. having that structure to support them so they are not wiped out in tough times. it has been a pleasure to work on this subcommittee and see the broader appropriations subcommittee having the chance to have a say in the process. here we are in a better place. i hope it is a course that we can continue. thank you, mr. president.
the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask that my time be allocated to leader time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, for several weeks our republican colleagues have been stonewalling our efforts to gain access to judge kavanaugh's full record on behalf of the senate and, more importantly, on behalf of the american people. in doing so, they've discarded a tradition of bipartisan cooperation when it comes to requesting a nominee's record. whether you've been for a nominee or not, we used to all agree that the senate should be able to review their full record. for the sake of transparency and openness for a vote, advice and consent on one of the most important jobs in the country and in the world -- a lifetime job of tremendous power, not an
be a tract power, but the decisions the supreme court makes affect the daily lives of americans. so this is just incredible. for justice kagan, democrats joined with the republican minority to request all of her records. for justice sotomayor, democrats did the same. we could have come up with some fake reasons why you couldn't get the records. we didn't. we believed in transparency and openness. but now republicans are doing a 180-degree reversal now that they are in charge, which leaves a very bad taste in our mouths and in the american people's mouths. they are saying what is good for the goose is not good for the gander, but transparency is fine when democrats are in charge and nominating nominees, but no transparency when republicans are in charge. so republicans are breaking from
the bipartisan precedent and they're requesting over a subset of judge kavanaugh's records from his time in the white house. chairman grassley has asked for documents pertaining to judge kavanaugh's time in the white house counsel's office but none from his three years as staff secretary, arguably a more important and more revealing job. and now, adding insult to injury -- and this is utterly amazing -- we have just learned that even when it comes to the documents concerning kavanaugh's time in the white house counsel's office, the senate is not likely to get the full picture. even on that limited group of documents, chairman grassley has written to the national archives and the bush library to request the documents when kavanaugh was white house counsel. and both are working to produce them. but unlike at the national archives, the bush library -- and we know president bush -- i
have a great deal of respect for him, i think he is a good man, even though i disagreed with him on a whole lot, but he is a close friend of kavanaugh, who worked for him, and he is a loyal guy. so what have they done? the bush library has hired a legal team led by a republican lawyer with close ties to president bush and president trump to prescreen the documents from kavanaugh's time in the white house counsel's office. they are doing the screening. this lawyer, who worked for bannon, who worked for priebus and so many other republicans, pejoratively you might say he is sort of a hack lawyer, but he always works for republicans. and he is screening the documents that the public can see. the legal team can cite executive privilege. that's president bush's prerogative to deny the senate
some or all of the documents. and we believe that they may be claiming the discretion to determine if a document is properly considered a presidential record at all. that's something only the national archives can do, and they are nonpartisan. they don't have any political pull on them. the bottom line is this -- the republican lawyers overseeing the production of documents from the bush library may seek to deny the senate access to documents the national archives would otherwise grant. is that incredible? so another layer -- it is not even all the counsel's documents, because there's a lawyer, a tried and true doctrinaire republican lawyer, tight with so many people in the administration, who is determining which documents we get to see and which documents we don't. so, knowing of that, i recently
wrote a letter to president bush asking him a simple question -- will he, president bush, make public judge kavanaugh's full record or not? i wanted to be sure that there would be little or no daylight between what the senate received from the bush library and from what we've received from the national archives. unfortunately, i did not get a simple answer. i got a reply from the lawyer hired by the bush library draped in legalese and obfuscations confirming that a team of it private-sector lawyers are screening the documents, the limited number of documents when kavanaugh was white house counsel. he also made clear that, quote, copies of records that the team of lawyers has reviewed and approved for disclosure would be made available to the committee. that's in this letter right here -- right here, sent by the
lawyers. ironically, this offer was presented as a courtesy. of course, it's plain as day. it means that chairman grassley could accept the prescreened documents from the bush legal team and decline to wait for documents being processed by the national archives, meaning the senate and the public will only see what partisan lawyers want us to see. some courtesy. mr. president, this is not a fishing expedition. this is not an amendment to run out the clock. -- this is an an attempt to run out the clock. we are talking about a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. the person who fills this vacancy on the court will have the power to affect the lives of every single american now and for decades. democrats simply want his record to be made available to the senate. and to the public. to judge for themselves whether president trump's anymore is the
right choice -- president trump's nominee is the right choice for our country. the american people deserve that right. but not only are the republicans blocking access to kavanaugh's record when he was senior counsel to the bush administration, the documents they are requesting are being prescreened by lawyers on their side. it leads you to wonder over and over again, what are the republicans trying to hide in kavanaugh's record? to go to such lengths, to tie themselves in knots and pretzels, to deny simple documents that people can read makes people ask, what are they hiding? what are they afraid of? why can't we have open documents, as we had for kagan and sotomayor? president obama's nominees. to go to such lengths, to deny the senate impartial access to this material, is telling. now, on health care --
today the trump administration has finalized a plan for a type of health insurance that will essentially repeal protections on preexisting conditions and allow insurance companies to cover fewer benefits, not more. these so-called short-term plans are the very definition of a bait and switch. under the guise of lower premiums, these plans lure americans in, but they hardly cover anything. the insurance company will tell you, oh, this plan will cover you for this and that. and then when you read the fine print, it doesn't, even though you're paying a nice-sized premium. so there are no protections in these plans, if you develop a preexisting condition. god forbid you find out your son or daughter has cancer, you need help, you're desperate for help, you want the health of your child, above anything else. the insurance company can just kick you off. that's not what america should be.
but these plans that the administration is supporting, allowing, pushing don't have any protections for preexisting conditions. many don't cover basic services like maternity care, prescription drugs -- how do you like that? you sign up for a plan, no prescription drugs. when you get sick, you discover you're on the hook for much more than you expected, maybe much more than you can afford. these are stories -- there are stories of people having medical bills close to $1 million after an insurer used a loophole in their junk plan to deny them coverage. we already know that many of the leading issuers of these junk plans spend less than half of the premiums they receive on health care. they pocket the money for profit and for salary and the poor person who is covered hardly gets anything. there ought to be protections
for that. we don't live in the 1890's. we live in a modern-day america where we believe in the private system, the private capitalist system. but we have some pproximately protections -- but we have some protections. that's what we learned through the centuries -- that people need them. but this administration, aided by some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle -- not all -- just want to roll back that clock for the benefit of the big, powerful industries hurting the average middle-class american. the trump administration plan is going to increase premiums for middle-class families also and for older americans, so many who have preexisting conditions. they'll have no choice but to remain in the comprehensive insurance, and their premiums will go way up. if you're over 50, before you get medicare, you better be wary of these, too, even if you don't want to buy the plan, it is going to cost you a lot more, your existing one. insurers across the country have
already cited the prospect of this rule as a major reason for the premium increases that are coming up in 2019, and who knows how much higher the premiums will go now that the rule is final. so let me be clear. these new short-term plans are not short of junk insurance. they are junk insurance, and the president is pushing them and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, many of them, not all, are giving these junk plans, the good housekeeping seal of approval at the abbey sans of -- abbeysance of big powerful insurance companies interests. these plans will cost more. we democrats will do everything in our power to stop these junk plans. instead of pushing new rules that weaken vital protections for people with preexisting conditions and raising the cost of health care for families, president trump and republicans
in congress should work together in a bipartisan fashion, as some have tried to do, including the senator from maine, who is aide standing behind me -- hose he -- who's standing behind me, work to lower costs and help the most vulenemy americans. i yield the floor -- and help the most vulnerable, americans. i yield the floor. ms. collins: mr. president, i call up the following amendments and ask that they be reported by number -- 3464, 3522, 3524, and 3402. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report the amendments by number. the presiding officer: the senator from maine, ms. collins, for others, proposes amendments number 3464, 3522, 3524, and 3402.
ms. collins: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to proceed with a closing statement for up to three minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, as we near completion of the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill for transportation, housing and urban development, and related agencies, which has been included in the appropriations package before this chamber, i would like to thank all of my colleagues for working collaboratively with us. the managers' amendment incorporates more than -- incorporates 14 t-hud amendments, which adds to the deliberations that produced the bill that we brought to the floor. in drafting this bill, the
ranking member, senator jack reed, to whom i'm very grateful for his bipartisan collaboration, reviewed more than 800 requests and input from 70 senators from both sides of the aisle. so this truly is a bipartisan product. i also want to thank the staff for their diligence and commitment throughout this process. our transportation-h.u.d. bill makes important investments in our infrastructure and housing programs that will benefit communities and vulnerable families, seniors, young people, homeless veterans, and so many others across the nation. improving our infrastructure is also essential for economic growth, personal mobility, and the creation of jobs. i'm pleased that we were able to bring this spending bill to the floor so that members had a full
opportunity to analyze and debate this legislation rather than the past practice of moving all the appropriations bills in one enormous 1,000-page omnibus. that is a great credit to the senate, to the appropriations committee, and particularly its leaders. senators shelby and senator leahy, and to the majority and minority leaders as well. all of them worked together and made it a goal for us to report all 12 appropriations bills from the appropriations committee and bring them to the floor for full and open debate. that is how the process is to work. i want to thank my members on both sides of the aisle. i urge my colleagues to support the bill. mr. president, i would also ask unanimous consent that another statement that i have be
included in the record as if read. it has to do with clarifying f.d.a. regulations on added sugar labeling requirements. it's very important to our pure maple syrup and honey producers in the state of maine. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, all postcloture time is expired. there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to the leahy amendment number 3464. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: today i rise in opposition to the amendment offered by my friend and colleague from vermont, senator leahy. my colleagues have heard me stand at this same desk multiple times and speak on the issues of the secure elections act, a piece of authorizing language that is exceptionally important that we actually get passed. this is a bill that senator klobuchar and i, along with senators harris, graham, collins, heinrich, burr, and
warner, have worked on very hard to get done. it is something that actually in the intelligence committee hearing is going on right now. some of the witnesses spontaneously raised this as one of the key issues that we need to be able to do to secure our elections. but what we are talking about today is not the authorizing language that is needed. it's appropriations dollars. just four months ago, this body passed $380 million to be able to give to the states to be able to help them in their elections. 90% of those dollars had been requested but most of that money is not out the door. so we have $380 million that is in the process, but it will be by the end of next year before we know how the states actually spend it. i believe it is far too early to add another quarter billion dollars, which is what this request is to the states, when we don't know how the first $380 million has even been spent, and the intelligence committee did an extensive research on how much was needed and the $380 million amount was what was needed for the moment.
so i would ask us to keep that $380 million, not add another quarter billion to the amount. mr. leahy: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator's time is expired. the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: our intelligence community unanimously agrees that russia interfered in the 2016 election. there is an imminent threat to the 2018 election. our country, our democracy is under attack, and we should respond. let's heed the warnings of our intelligence agencies. the lights are blinking red. let's listen to our state attorneys general and secretaries of state. my amendment does provide $250 million for state election security grants to protect our upcoming elections. it helps states improve elections cybersecurity, replace outdated electrical equipment. we did provide, as the distinguished senator said, $380 million in fiscal year 2018. that was the first new funding for election security in years,
but more is needed. the president is not going to act. the duty has fallen to us. let's not after an election find out that this country was defenseless against attacks from russia and say oh, gosh, we should have done something. this is not a partisan issue. republicans and democrats have to be concerned. i would urge an aye vote on my amendment to secure our elections. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i ask unanimous consent that all votes after the first in this series be ten minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question is on the amendment. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 50, the nays are 47. under the previous order, requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is not agreed to. there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to the lee amendment, number 3522. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to three
minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. lee: mr. president -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. lee: mr. president, a few years ago a company in california called hamilton creek now known as just, inc. started selling vegan, eggless mayonnaise marketed to vegetarians, vegans and people with food allergies or other health concerns. as soon as just mayo started to win converts it started to attract attention to those in the egg administration. their mission was not to reduce prices. it was instead to enlist the government in a pattern that would chill competition. under a 1938 federal law the food and drug administration has the power to set so-called standards of identity, rules defining what does and does not
qualify as a particular food product. under these regulations anything calling itself mayonnaise has to have eggs in it. just mayo was being accused of being illegally labeled. it is not just mayonnaise. the other week the f.d.a. announced a rule that would ban the term milk from nondairy products because they say it is the lacto see kregs of one or more healthy cows and nothing else. it would wipe out almond milk and coconut milk and other items like this. whatever their original value these labeling requirements are outdated and unnecessary. consumers are not deceived by these labels. no one buys almond milk under the false illusion they came from a cow. they buy it because it didn't come from a cow. the amendment i'm offering would protect students from standards of eye -- consumers from
standards of identity requirements. the amendment would prohibit funds from being used to enforce those rules against products simply because of their use of a common compound name such as where a word or phrase identifies an alternative plant or animal source. in other words, it will protect products like almond milk, goat cheese and gluten free bread. the market pwhropbgdz to -- belongs to consumers. the role of government in the market is to protect competition, not an individual competitor. the federal government certainly has more important things to do than worry about things like the scourge of almond milk. i urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this amendment. a senator: mr. president. mr. president. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak up to two and a half minutes on
this. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. ms. baldwin: mr. president, i rise to urge my colleagues to oppose my colleague, senator lee's amendment which would interfere with the food and drug administration's ability to enforce their regulations related to the names of dairy products. this amendment if passed would upend the f.d.a.'s review of nutrition innovation as part of its nutrition innovation strategy. it would short circuit the agency's efforts to review standards of identity and other tools to provide meaningful, accurate information about food products to consumers, and it would block the agency from addressing the mislabeling of imitation products that use dairy names without meeting the requirements, the legal requirements to use those terms. the f.d.a. has currently an open docket, and the public is able to comment on these issues. we should all let that process
play out. but this isn't just an attack on the f.d.a.'s process. it's an attack on dairy farmers -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. ms. baldwin: it's an attack on dairy farmers across the country and in my home state of wisconsin. and this attack couldn't happen at a worse time. dairy farmers are facing extremely difficult times, and in wisconsin last year we lost over 500 dairy farms, mostly small and medium-family sized farms, almost 6% of the dairy farms operating in our state. dairy farmers in wisconsin work hard to meet the various requirements for the milk that they produce. this ensures that when a consumer buys a dairy product, it will perform in recipes as expected and it will contain high-quality nutrients for those consumers. i want to finish with one key point. there are already existing regulations on the books that define what constitutes dairy. however, the f.d.a. has failed
to enforce their own rules. as imitation products have used dairy's good name for their own benefit. i introduced the dairy pride act to enforce the f.d.a. to stop sitting on the sidelines and enforce its own rules instead of blocking the f.d.a. from doing its job, as the lee amendment would do, we should ensure that the f.d.a. moves forward and enforces its own rules. dairy farmers in wisconsin shouldn't be asked to wait any longer, and i urge my colleagues to oppose the lee amendment. the presiding officer: the question occurs on the lee amendment. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote: